Wednesday, 30 March 2011

More books & some nostalgia!

I'm halfway through my second Reb regiment now and my thoughts are beginning to turn towards terrain building already. I looked up the old scan (below) of some boards I built back in the Eighties! I was pretty pleased with that as I recall. 6 x 2 foot square boards from plywood. The trees were made from garden twigs and lichen and I thought back then looked pretty smart. My figures were all Minifigs, in 24 figure units and my games were played to 'Circa 1863' rules. We had some great games on that table.

OK, so fast forward a couple of decades and things have moved on. K&M trees are pretty much standard so I intend to use them and I will be looking for more flexibility in terms of layout from my new table. I'm also going to try my first cornfield (maize) using the 'mini Christmas tree' method, should be fun. Buildings once again will be the excellent 'Hovels' range.

I'm re-reading some of my old ACW books, and 'The Blue and The Gray' is right a the top of my list. I love this book, the cover caught my eye soon as I saw it, but it really is a goldmine of personal memoirs and accounts as seen from both sides. What I love is that you can take a small slice of action from a major battle and read both the Union and the Confederate soldiers perspective. Here's a snippet from Dawes "Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers" entitled"Wisconsin Boys Are Slaughtered in The Cornfield". It gives a vivid account of the terrain features at Antietam well as the intense fighting.

"At the edge of the cornfield was a low Virginia rail fence. Before the corn were open fields, beyond which was a strip of woods surrounding a little church, the Dunkard church. As we appeared at the edge of the corn a long line of men in butternut and gray rose up from the ground. Simultaneously, the hostile battle lines opened up a tremendous fire upon each other. Men, I can not say fell; they were knocked out of the ranks by dozens. But we jumped over the fence and pushed on, loading, firing and shouting as we advanced. There was, on the part of the men, great hysterical excitement, eagerness to go forward, and a reckless disregard of life, of everything but victory. Captain Kellogg brought his company abreast of us on the turnpike.
The Fourteenth Brooklyn Regiment, red legged zouaves, came into our line, closing the awful gaps. Now is the pinch. Men and officers of New York and Wisconsin are fused into a common mass, in the frantic struggle to shoot fast. Everybody tears cartridges, loads, passes guns or shoots. Men are falling in their places or running back into the corn. The soldier who is shooting is furious in his energy. The soldier who is shot looks a round for help with an imploring agony of death on his face. After a few rods of advance the lines stopped, and by common impulse, fell back to the edge of the corn and lay down on the ground behind the low rail fence."

Dawes later reports that of the 280 men present before the action, 150 were killed or wounded.

The Civil War Collectors Encyclopaedia is useful for information on items of uniform and equipment as well as personal items carried by Civil war soldiers. Identity discs were common and recruits made them from old coins etc, in fear of being left unidentified if killed. I find such items very moving. I'm not sure if ID discs were carried before this period?

(Double click the old scan pic go enlarge it.)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Mounted general & artillery.

I am really coming to like these Peter Pig figures, and the horses are lovely, big chunky castings with lots of muscle definition, just how I like them! Highlighting is easy. I think they would match well with the 'Essex' range too and I remain a big fan of Essex figures .

Painted the third section of Union artillery to complete my first JR battery. I went for a red shirt for one of the crew just to add a little contrast. I must admit his position may seem odd but I could not make the crew fit any other way, so I guess he's just turning to damp down his sponge in a bucket or something!

The mounted figure will be my first Brigade command figure, again a great little casting.

Friday, 25 March 2011

First Rebs completed

I completed my first Confederate regiment today, 20 figures advancing/charging. I'm pleased with the sense of movement and the overall muted colour effect that seems to blend quite well. I'm itching to play that first JR II refresher game (its been 9 years since I last played an ACW game!).

Pictures show them on a piece of 28mm terrain so the road is out of scale but I will be starting on some 15mm boards very shortly. Already got the third Union artillery section and crew undercoated, plus a Union Brigade commander, then its straight back to more Reb infantry.

My first 2 Union Regiments now have flags added.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

First Rebs -test paint.

I'm half way through my first Confederate regiment of 20 figures. I wanted to keep them down to a few basic colours so I use Foundry 'charcoal grey' as a shade highlighted with 'arctic grey' and for the butternut I use 'Tan shade' overpainted with ' spearshaft light', which I can vary by adding white. All paints are by Foundry. I'm fairly pleased with results overall and a coat of varnish will improve them.

The PP's are nice figures, easy to paint. I have also got some flagsheets now. The Confederate flags are slightly overscale I think but that's a minor niggle. They are well printed and excellent value.

I'm going to complete the 3 section Union battery (below) after this Reb unit is completed and re paint those Parrott's in a more 'grey' shade like the illustration as I'm not happy with that 'olive' colour!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Union artillery - test paint.

Have painted 2 sections of a Union Parrott battery (will add the 3rd section when my next order arrives). I really struggled to get the carriage colour correct and I still don't think I'm quite there yet, but its close enough for now. I looked at many sources and read the threads over at the TMP message boards (where the subject has been raised several times), before deciding to use the photo of a damaged 12pdr as a guide. Mine are still slightly more 'olive green' in shade though. The gunners are a pleasure to paint, well animated figures.

First 10 Rebs are now undercoated and I should have my first Confederate regiment completed before next weekend.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Basing style.

I have now based the first 2 Union regiments, all they need are flags and coat of varnish. I used a fine grit to texture the bases, followed by a white dry-brush and some Citadel (GW) static grass. This sets the standard for the project now. I'm still struggling with fingers/hands a bit but its improving gradually and the overall look I'm very happy with. Will have some Union artillery (2 stands) completed in next couple of days before starting on some Rebs.

I'm going to work on terrain pieces at the same time as painting the figures and I hope to blend everything in nicely together.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

First 2 Union regiments painted!

I'm starting to get a feel for this scale again and enjoying my painting. Have now completed 2 x 20 figure Union regiments and am just about to start on 2 Union rifled guns and crews. Still waiting for my basing material order to arrive so that I can finish them. Going to place another order with peter pig now including flagsheets. I'll make the Union guns up to a full 3 section battery before painting the first 2 Reb regiments. I'm happy with the mix of poses, mainly advancing at right shoulder shift arms & advancing with muskets up. I'm already planning terrain including cornfields (maize) as I have seen some excellent ideas for making these.

Plan initially is to paint a brigade per side plus artillery battery then get them on the table for a Johnny Reb II refresher game. As this blog develops I hope to introduce the JR game concepts and illustrate how well they recreate civil war combat.

Better photos coming soon!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Finally started!

The first unit is now completed and just awaiting basing, I'll get some pics up later. Given the time its been since I last painted a 15mm figure I don't think they look too bad. I thought about what poses to use before deciding on a mix of 'right shoulder shift arms' and 'advancing' as being the best representation of a Civil war unit at the point of getting close to the enemy, when the instinct to bring the musket down from the shoulder occurs. Officers would encourage those muskets to remain on the shoulder as long as possible to avoid firing until at close range. I think the mix looks OK and allows a wider use of figures from the Peter Pig range. I'm waiting for an order for basing materials to arrive, I want to use fairly dark but dry-brushed ground cover with GW static grass in patches.

Under the Johnny Reb II rules all units consist of 5 bases (later changed to 4 under JR3, but I felt the balance was lost). A regiment of 20 figures are therefore 4 per base, a unit of 15 figures are 3 per base, and 25 figure units are 5 per base etc. The bases are slightly different widths depending on figures per base. Many gamers do not like this approach, preferring to keep all bases the same size for use with other rule sets, but I'm going to stay loyal to the second version of JR. I like being able to field regiments of different sizes. Figure scale is 1 to 20.

Back shortly with the first images of the first Union regiment.